Each week a handful of Riverway Learning Community Students have a special opportunity to participate in a Recorder Choir. The Choir is directed by Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA) instructor, Lisa Douglas right on-site at Riverway. Riverway Learning Community is a tuition free charter school in Winona that values the arts, but until fall of 2018 when it began partnering with MCA had no formal music instruction in it’s curriculum.

Now thanks to support from the Winona Hims and a Walmart Giving Grant MCA is able to provide a group of 4th-6th graders the opportunity to dive even deeper into music. The students were selected for this opportunity based on their engagement in fall general music classes and in order to participate they are also required to stay on top of their classwork. According to an article from The Telegraph online magazine, “New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills.”  Reading music requires counting notes and rhythms which improve math skills. Some studies reveal that playing an instrument can increase your IQ up to 7 points.

Students in the Recorder Choir are using the Recorder Karate method which encourages them to become proficient in a song in order to earn a “belt” (a ribbon) at each level. A new color belt is added to their recorder each level they pass through. So in addition to the benefits of music participation the students are also able to stay motivated as they visually see their progress. At the completion of the 8-week session the choir will be able to show off their new skills at an all-school morning meeting in March.

At MCA we are so proud of partnerships like this that allow us to bring our quality instruction and resources to members of the community who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience the arts. If you would like more information about how we can bring the arts to your organization or group or if you would like to learn how you can make a donation to help make this work possible please contact MCA Managing Director, Jamie Schwaba, jschwaba@smumn.edu.